With one week remaining to comply with the Town of Leesburg’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, resignations of town employees and board and commission members have continued.
According to Public Information Officer Betsy Arnett, the number of resignations from the Leesburg Police Department now stands at nine, up from seven just a few weeks ago. That department represents the largest number of resignations since the Town Council voted Oct. 12 to impose the mandate, with the deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 11.
Altogether, 14 full-time employees have left town employ since the mandate vote, with seven of those employees tying their resignation to the mandate. Four part-time employees have resigned, including three in the Parks & Recreation Department, all of whom cited the mandate as their reason. Six members of the town’s advisory boards and commissions have resigned, but only two of those resignations were attributed to the mandate. All board and commission members must also comply with the mandate, with the exception of the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Arnett had previously stated because those bodies are state-mandated, there is no authority for the town to dismiss members for not complying with a vaccine mandate.
In addition to the nine police department resignations, three full-time employees have resigned from the Finance & Administrative Services Department; one from the Town Manager’s Office; and one from the Utilities Department. In addition to the three resignations from the Parks & Recreation Department, one part-time employee has resigned from Thomas Balch Library.
Of the two remaining full-time employees who are unvaccinated, one remains undecided and one has indicated they will not comply, and hence will either resign or be terminated by Jan. 11. Two part-time employees have indicated they will not get vaccinated, and four part-timers are undecided. One board or commission member is undecided, and seven have not yet responded to the town.
In subsequent meetings leading up to the mandate compliance deadline, there have been several attempts by council members Kari Nacy and Suzanne Fox, the only two council members to vote against the mandate, to rescind the Oct. 12 action. However, remaining council members have voted to remove those motions from council agendas without allowing a vote. The council’s next business meeting is the same date as the deadline, Jan. 11.
Mayor Kelly Burk, who first introduced the vaccine mandate, said this week she has no plans on propose the COVID-19 booster shot be added to the mandate. Burk said she is, however, looking at incentives to encourage employees to get their booster shots, such as offering time off work or holding a booster shot clinic in a convenient location.